Nielsen: 8 Traits to Gauge Social TV Success

By Karen Fratti 

According to a study by Nielsen published this week, programmers can predict how well a a show will do on social media.  They looked at over 450 English and Spanish television shows, the size and demographic of the audience, the type of program, and whether it was broadcast or premium. They created a model to calculate the average number of tweets based on those characteristics and found that it was pretty easy to anticipate how well a program will perform.

Nielsen writes on their Newswire that:

this integrated model explained 67% of the variance in Twitter activity. Said another way, basic differences between programs, such as TV audience size and what type of series each program is, can explain the majority of the difference in Twitter volumes between programs. As one might expect, audience size alone (i.e., live audiences age 12-34 and 2-99) plays a large role in telling the level of Twitter activity around a program, explaining 51% of variance in average Tweets per episode.


It’s a good model to measure success before a show premieres and if it starts to slump. Marketers and content creators should be able to get an idea if their show is under or over-performing based on the eight basic program characteristics. Of course there are exceptions:

Other factors, such as content quality, promotion strategies or to what extent the cast is active on social media during airtime, could explain the remaining one-third of variance in performance. These remaining variables are levers that networks and content producers could potentially use to drive social activity.


nielsen program characteristicssocial tv successevalsocial tv performance